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TeleVideo for North Sentinel Island

If a modern gadget is useful enough, will it survive?
  [vote for,

See the first link. N.S.I. is roughly square-ish, 8 or 9 kilometers on a side. Its inhabitants are Stone-Age level, and have never exhibited any interest in communicating with outsiders.

Presumably, though, they like communicating among themselves. So...let us construct a modern communications gadget with certain special features. It must be solar-powered, and have a decent backup-power battery for nights and rainy days. The strength of the radio signals it generates must reach across the whole island, at least. Because the island is well-forested, which may interfere with good reception, it needs an attached spool with an extend-able antenna.

It should have a microphone and a speaker and a camera and a video screen, of course, although the screen doesn't need to be super-high-resolution, or even as large as the average smartphone screen. It does NOT have an "off" switch.

The case should have an embossed symbol. When we make more than one of these devices, each gets a unique embossed symbol. The "controls" include a button that can show, on the video screen, the symbols associated with all the other gadgets. If two such gadgets have selected each other's symbols, then those two gadgets will send their audio/video streams to each other, on a unique frequency.

Now we make at least a hundred of these things, "setting" them up in advance as 50 connected pairs. We use long-distance drones to fly them to N.S.I. and deposit them on the beaches around the island, above the high-tide line.

Unbeknown to the islanders, the signals produced by the TeleVideo gadgets are strong enough to reach offshore antennas, so that the world can watch and see what the islanders do with the devices. If they happen to actually get used for communications, then anthropologists can eventually learn their language. THEN another infusion of updated gadgets can be done, so that the outside world can send signals to the gadgets, and communicate with the natives.

Vernon, May 03 2015

About North Sentinel Island http://en.wikipedia...rth_Sentinel_Island
As mentioned in the main text. [Vernon, May 03 2015]


       why force N.S Islanders to take progress ? Wouldn't a progressed stripped, crack team of anthropologists a better way to make contact. Although any transfer is going to mix bacterial, viral cultures with unseen outcomes.
wjt, May 03 2015

       Just one more good example of the dangers of reality TV   

normzone, May 03 2015

       [wjt], there is no "forcing" here. If the islanders don't like these presents, the gadgets can be ignored or tossed into the sea or smashed with rocks or....   

       And modern sterilization techniques can suffice to ensure no dangerous organisms are on the devices, when sent to the island.
Vernon, May 04 2015

       Perhaps [vernon] you could volunteer for the test run? You, your friends, family and colleagues could all communicate between yours elves using these machines, while the rest of the world tunes in and watches, and discusses your behaviour and social organisation. If after one year the amusement value plus scholarly studies outweigh the expense, the scheme could be expanded overseas as you suggest.
pocmloc, May 04 2015

       Interesting link. I can't help but wonder, are 50 to 400 individuals enough of a viable gene pool to survive? I mean, unless there are far more females than males.   

       ...and if long range drones are sent, why not attach video cameras to trees around their habitations?   

       ...also I don't think I've ever heard or read of a culture that didn't gather in the open for celebrations. You'd think it would be pretty easy to get a fairly accurate head-count from space.   

       // a hundred of these things, "setting" them up//   

       Your "habit" of using "inverted commas" is "intriguing". When you say ' "setting" them up', do you mean that they are not actually set up, or that you are using the word "setting" to mean something completely "different"?   

       But I "digress". Your proposal, as I understand it, is to bug an entire nation and, at the same time, expose them to a level of technology that they have never encountered and would seem not to want.   

       I say no. If they want to be left alone, leave them alone.   

       //are 50 to 400 individuals enough of a viable gene pool to survive? // Certainly. 50 people is more than enough.   

       If you picked 50 people at random from today's population, and isolated them, you'd probably see a high rate of some genetic disorders (and zero rate of many others) for the first few generations. This rate would diminish a little over time, then stabilize.   

       A more interesting question is: "could a fully homozygous human (that is, someone who was so inbred that their maternally and paternally derived chromosomes were identical) survive?" In most cases, the answer would be "no", because most of us carry many recessive-lethal mutations (which, in a full homozygote, would be lethal). But, in theory, I can't see why a viable homozygote couldn't exist. If two such homozygotes had kids, the kids would all be identical to each other and to their parents.   

       Now that I think of it, lab strains of mice and rats (such as the Wistar rat) are pretty highly inbred and, I suspect, pretty nearly homozygous.   

       [EDIT] OK, I checked up (I should have known this stuff to begin with). Mouse and rat strains which are regarded as isogenic for research porpoises are defined as having been through more than 20 generations of inbreeding, and are >98% homozygous (presumably much more in long-established strains). These animals are generally OK, except where certain traits (such as albinism) have been selected for.   

       So, it would probably be possible to establish a line of homozygous humans who were perfectly healthy. If so, then you could build a population starting with one man and one woman. They would all be clones.   

       The big problem would be susceptibility to disease - all individuals would be equally susceptible, so you've got all your eggs in one basket. At least until random mutation diversifies things a bit.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 04 2015

       So the NSI'ers DNA has probably been stripped of recessives over the centuries ?
FlyingToaster, May 04 2015

       I would guess so, at least to some extent. Recessive mutations persist mainly because individuals carrying the same one seldom meet and have kids. So, if you're heterozygous for cystic fibrosis, and have kids with someone who isn't, all your kids will be fine, and so will their kids in most cases. If you and your partner both carry CF, 25% of your kids would (without medical care) die young.   

       So, in a small population, you'd expect recessive mutations to diminish over time, because they're selected against whenever they "meet themselves". I'm not sure if the maths says that recessives will eventually be eliminated completely, or if they will persist at a lower level in smaller population. Also, of course, new mutations pop up all the time.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 04 2015

       I wonder what their antipathy to outsiders is based on. Is it a predictable end result of a small clan in an isolated location, or have they evaluated us to the best of their abilities and decided that "civilization is bad for you, best not to go there" ?
normzone, May 04 2015

       Whoa... zygosity is a fun subject to wade into without context.
This is completely off-topic, but I've always wondered, almost every culture on Earth has a first-man first-woman myth. Assuming this is fact and that the first two specimens had no genetic imperfections, how many generations would it take for humans to devolve to a cave-man state? ...and how many generations would it take to re-evolve.

       ...aaanyway I think [MB] is right, we should probably let them have their peace.
It would be interesting to see what they do with our garbage that washes up on their shores.

       It's the coke bottle all over again.
wjt, May 05 2015

       //almost every culture on Earth has a first-man first- woman myth. Assuming this is fact//   

       But it probably isn't. It's not as if you have a population of one species and then, all of a sudden, mutations happen that turn one individual (or, particularly, a male and a female) into the founders of a new species.   

       Instead, you have a population that gradually drifts, until at some point it can no longer interbreed with the original population.   

       Assuming that humans will eventually become another species (in the sense that they would not be able to interbreed with anyone alive today), the process is already underway.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 05 2015

       //almost every culture on Earth has a first-man first-woman myth. Assuming this is fact [...]//   

       It is a remarkably pervasive pattern - but, in addition to [MB]'s remarks, there's this objection: for the myths to have originated from observed facts, there would have had to be a medium of inter-generational communication to carry the story through time. In other words, these proto-humans would have had to have language from, if not generation one, then, at least, say, generation three.   

       If you want this to be true, then you need either a language-teaching deus ex machina (optionally from outer space, if you follow von Daniken), or a scenario closer to Deucalion & Pyrrha than to Adam & Eve.   

       It seems to me more likely that the myth-pattern comes from some people's desire to imagine themselves as the sole important progenitors of some vast future progeny (their contemporaries, all the *other* great-grandparents of their great-grandchildren, being edited out of the picture) - that fantasy then being projected backwards into an imagined past. I have no proof of this, however.
pertinax, May 05 2015

       Yes, very unlikely. I just find it fascinating that the myth crosses cultures.
The natives in and around Pemberton were some of the last contacted by white men in North America. Mount Curry is considered sacred to them and as part of their manhood ritual the young men were required to climb this mountain and spend the night alone. The legend is that very rarely one of them would be visited by first-man and first-woman.
This legend of theirs was around a Long time before anyone could have introduced them to the Adam and Eve story.

       I miss climbing that mountain... charged by bears and moose, caught in rock slides. Good times.
Getting paid a visit by first-man first-woman was pretty cool too.
If anyone has hypnosis skills and a willingness to travel I would very much like to be able to remember what it was they said.

       Yep, I should probably keep that little story to myself, but since I had never heard of their myth before the encounter I think about it quite a lot.
It's like the time my son and I stumbled upon a human footprint sunk into solid rock which turned out to be a missing one of seven such footprints, supposedly made by Transformers, (spirit guides) marking the territory before man's arrival there.

       When you learn of the legends 'after' you've already experienced them... it makes you wonder about them whether you want to or not.   

       //how many generations would it take for humans to devolve to a cave-man state? ...and how many generations would it take to re-evolve.//   

       Evolution doesn't work like that. It doesn't care whether you're sick or healthy, strong or weak. It only cares whether you have children who have children.
Voice, May 05 2015

       Inbreeding causes mutations. If you took two horses and only allowed the offspring of those two horses to either breed with siblings or parents and continued that practice, how long before descendants wouldn't be able to breed with their progenitors? And wouldn't this adaptation be thought of as devolution?   

       "Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!" Showing my age here with this reference.
AusCan531, May 06 2015

       /breed with siblings or parents/   

       This must happen with plants all the time. Especially big trees.
bungston, May 06 2015

       //Inbreeding causes mutations.//   

       No, it doesn't. Really and truly. Inbreeding causes existing recessive mutations to become apparent, but it doesn't cause the mutations in the first place.   

       //If you took two horses and only allowed the offspring of those two horses to either breed with siblings or parents and continued that practice, how long before descendants wouldn't be able to breed with their progenitors? And wouldn't this adaptation be thought of as devolution?//   

       This is exactly how lab-strains of mice and rats are created (they have to be inbred in this way for >20 generations to be considered isogenic). The offspring are perfectly healthy (unless they've been bred to have a specific disorder), and it's likely that today's rats could breed quite easily with their 20x grandparents.   

       Lots of dog breeds are also very highly inbred, often tracing back to just two animals. Yes, many breeds have congenital problems, but this is because they weren't selected out as the breed was created.   

       Horses aren't much different (thoroughbreds have only a handful of males and a handful of females as ancestors). Nor are lots of other domesticated animals.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 06 2015

       So, perfect genetic specimens could inbreed indefinitely without mutation? Fascinating.   

       I just re-read my first-man first-woman, stone-footprint post and it sounds crazy even to me. I should explain. Feel free to delete this drivel if you want to [Vernon]. No offence will be taken.   

       Gather 'round the fire kids uncle Fries's gonna tell all'yall's 'nother not-so-tall-tale.   

       Twenty some odd years ago now a friend called me up to do a flooring job with him in Pemberton B.C. Canada.
He had taken on the contract to linoleum a series of condos that the local natives were building on their New Site and he asked me to tackle it with him and crash in the spare room of his trailer on the rez for the month or so it was going to take to finish.

       See, at that time it's sad to say that many of the natives there were living in squalor and alcoholism at their old site still doing things like chopping holes in their roofs to let out the smoke from campfires in their living rooms, having semi-annual dog-shoots if they started packing up and nipping at the kids and burning their furniture if they ran out of wood knowing it would be replaced in the spring.
A large number of them were in the process of picking themselves up out of the shit and building the new site with it's own school, convenience store, and housing. They had all their own contractors but flooring wasn't something they had under their belts so my buddy and I were the only white guys on an all native worksite.

       My 'thing' back then was throwing on a backpack and getting lost alone in the bush for a few days at a time. Awesome area for that btw.
Mount Currie has these rock spires sprouting from near its peak which look to me like the fingers of a gigantic hand being slowly unearthed as more of the face falls away each spring. For the next few years that I ended up living there I tried to see what was in the palm of these fingers and although I climbed that mountain many times something always kept me from getting there.
The first time I climbed it I made it to the summit and back down a ways to set up camp out of the wind, but as I started getting a fire ready, a large-enough-to-kill-me boulder rolled down and bounced off of where I was going to set up for the night so I found a better spot at the base of a large tree to deflect any more rocks that might happen to bounce of me in the middle of the night.
By the time I'd found a decent place it was getting too dark to pitch a tent and it wasn't supposed to storm that night so I just crawled into my sleeping bag and pulled it up and over my head so I didn't die from blood loss to the mosquitos which my sleeping bag was covered with until morning.
At some point during the night I found myself suddenly standing up and watching a man and a woman talking about something on the ground.
They had no clothes on but didn't strike me as naked. I could understand what they were saying but the meanings of the words disappeared as soon as they were uttered. When I looked down to see what they discussed I could see myself lying on the ground asleep with the bag still pulled over my head. When I looked back up they were leaving and when I looked back down again I was snapped wide awake and lying inside the bag again wondering "wtf was that?" for the rest of the night.

       The next day I was telling my buddy about this totally bizarre lucid dream I'd had on the mountain the night before and his native girlfriend in the next room starts freaking out about this first-man first-woman man-trek myth thing and insists that I have to tell their chief. I politely declined. The Oka crisis was in full swing at the time, things were pretty tense and I'd just got to town then and didn't hardly know anybody. There was more than enough work to be had though, so I stuck around
Years went by, and she would bug me about it sometimes but it felt weird talking about it so I just brushed it off.

       I met my future wife and her four year old son not too long after that, (she swears he was five at the time but I remember it differently) and by the time he was seven he was my future hiking buddy.
We were having an over night manly 'rough'n it' camp out at a nearby campground with just the two of us. In the morning we went hiking and at one point while I was watering a nearby bush he shouts, "Hey I found a foot." I'm thinking deer hoof, maybe some psycho actually left a foot or something, but he'd been scratching at the dirt and found what looked like a human footprint sunk into the top of a solid rock which itself was about the size of a small kitchen floor. We swept the rest of the dirt away and the impression was extremely clear so I took off my boot and sock to compare and although it was bigger than my foot it was very clearly a footprint.
I took an exaggerated forward step and what looked like a heel print was there and when I took an exaggerated back-step the inset of a large toe and ball were waiting.
I told my buddy about this latest weird thing and he told his fiancé, (same native girl), and this time she completely lost her shit, wouldn't take no for an answer and made me march over to the chiefs house with her.

       He took my little stories very seriously and asked if I would show the spot to their shaman. He set it up and I dragged this fellow and a photographer out to this footprint Jesse had found. They were very solemn and reserved. I only realised in hindsight that they really didn't want to be telling their as yet unwritten oral history to a blue-eyed white boy and then be guided though 'their' woods to one of 'their' artifacts... which was probably lost to them because of a blue-eyed whitey in the first place.
(Can't say I blame them much.) I heard these myths only because of some obligation they felt to tell them to me after hearing what I had to say.

       Point is; what for me was nothing more than a particularly weird out-of-body lucid dream probably brought on by hypoxia or bedding down on a psilocybin patch, was, for them an affirmation of one of their oldest manhood ritual myths and a meeting with first-man first-woman... and some weird rock formation my kid found ends up being one of several other solid rock footprints delineating their territory.
Anything you find about the oral history of these people has been written since that time.

       If we contact these North Sentinel Island people without a thorough prior knowledge of their belief system it will have huge repercussions for them.
...and maybe you can also see why I can't stop wondering about first-man first-woman aboriginal myths.

       Ok kids, that's enough story time for one night. We've got a big day ahead of us tomorrow and you all need your beauty sleep.
Way y's go now.
Don't let the bed-bugs bite.

       Thanks for the story Uncle 2 Fries. Pretty cool. (Beautiful country around Pemberton too.)
AusCan531, May 07 2015

       //So, perfect genetic specimens could inbreed indefinitely without mutation? Fascinating. //   

       Not indefinitely - spontaneous mutations occur, though at a low rate. But, in theory, there's no reason why you couldn't create a "line" of isogenic humans, just as they do with mice or rats.   

       Of course, when a new disease strikes...
MaxwellBuchanan, May 07 2015

       Pretty soon people with sport drones will be able to spy on anyone without access to rifles or lawyers.   

       The problem here is that most video would probably be of people staring at the drones.
bungston, May 07 2015

       emp rifle. probably legal'ish. Undetectable, except for the standing outside waving a pointing stick around.   

       Convert a TV satellite dish: stick it in your attic or under the garage roof. Remember to make your "kill" spread center elsewhere.   

       Kinetic kills - see Powered Frisbees : Battle Frisbee.   

       Pirate Drones RC dirigibles : the last thing the drone operator sees is a Zeppelin, sporting the Jolly Roger, bearing down.   

       Not that I've given it any thought of course.
FlyingToaster, May 07 2015

       The most effective anti-drone projectile would probably be a mass of string.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 07 2015

       /mass of string/   

       I have considered that as an antihelicopter weapon. I think it would be hard to get it airborne. One could use a device like the 2 cannonballs with a chain once used against sailing ships. Maybe 2 shotgun shells with a wire between?
bungston, May 07 2015

       Having fired both barrels of a shotgun at the same time before, I'm unenthused. Also, a slight difference in firing times could be interesting.   

       But keep thinking, this will be a popular tool someday.
normzone, May 07 2015

       No, it's true.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 08 2015


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